National / Crime & Legal

Japan weighs granting pardons to mark new Emperor's enthronement

JIJI

The Japanese government is considering granting pardons for certain crimes as early as this fall in line with Crown Prince Naruhito’s accession to the throne, sources have said.

Pardons linked to Imperial family events were last issued in 1993 on the occasion of the marriage of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako.

Before that, pardons were granted in 1989 in line with the death of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, and in 1990 to mark the enthronement of his son, Emperor Akihito, covering 10 million and 2.5 million people, respectively.

Pardons linked to Emperor Akihito’s abdication are unlikely to be issued, the sources said.

Pardons include making guilty rulings ineffective, reducing sentences and restoring legal rights restricted by guilty rulings.

The sources said that the pardons currently under consideration are unlikely to cover serious crimes in consideration to the feelings of victims.

A focus will be whether election law violations will become eligible for the proposed pardons. The government came under fire for its decision to make election law violators eligible for the pardons granted to mark Emperor Akihito’s enthronement.

It is possible to cancel punishments imposed on government officials in line with pardons, but such a step will not be implemented this time because it is unlikely to win public understanding, a government source said.

Pardons themselves have been criticized by some critics for being outmoded or arbitrary.

Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on Tuesday and his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, is scheduled to accede to the throne the following day.

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